Charter school bill stalls in Senate, but is still percolating

Regular folks who meet with their legislator over the charter school amendment get a Starbucks gift card. (Starbucks.)

Regular folks who meet with their legislators over the charter school amendment get a Starbucks gift card. (Starbucks photo.)

No bill this legislative session will be discussed as much as the charter school amendment, which was the subject of a fiery two-hour debate today in the state Senate.

A vote was never held, probably over concerns that there was not a guarantee of the two-thirds support needed to approve a public referendum on a constitutional amendment to empower the state to authorize charter schools. The Senate vote will occur when GOP leaders in the Senate are assured they have corralled the needed yeses. (The amendment already passed the House after hours of debate, a defeat one week and then a resurrection the next.)

A small example of how important this issue has become is the incentive of a Starbucks gift card to people who lobby their legislator about school choice. The offer is being made by the pro school choice Center for an Educated Georgia.

According to the center website: Take part in the Center for an Educated Georgia’s Coffee Challenge by meeting with your legislator to tell your school choice story. Tell us about your meeting, you will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card and be entered to win a $100 gift card!

Here is the AJC account of today’s charter school debate and the tabling of the vote:

Wednesday’s action shows the bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate after having won two-thirds support in the House.Delaying the vote does not mean it won’t be passed during this session. But two-thirds of senators would have to support it for it to pass, something that is out of reach for the moment.

Republicans hold a majority in the 56-member Senate, but they would need to get the support of all 36 Republican members and at least two Democrats.

But Democrats on Wednesday showed no willingness to drop their opposition to the legislation, which Republicans have pushed in response the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision last May which determined the state could not force local school districts to pay for charter schools they did not authorize.

The Georgia Charter Schools Commission had approved the applications of charter school backers who had failed to get the support of their local school districts. The commission’s approval allowed the charter schools to get local funding even if the local school board had rejected the charter school application.

Separate legislation spelling out how those schools would be funded makes clear that local districts would not have to pay for charter schools they did not approve. The state would fund the schools it approves.

Democrats, however, attacked the charter schools legislation on multiple fronts, arguing that the state has struggled to fund traditional public schools and would struggle even more if charter schools got more local funding. And Democrats attempted to turn what is usually a Republican mantra– local control is best — against them, arguing that having the state authorize charter schools instead of local districts was a violation of that principle.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

81 comments Add your comment

Teacher 4 ever

February 29th, 2012
11:12 pm

This legislature is doing nothing but taking away the rights of Georgia citizens. There is nothing being done to remedy the transportation, infrastructure or employment issues in this state. All we are getting is big brother government reigning down on us like we are children. Please vote these corrupt politicians out of office.

Atlanta Mom

February 29th, 2012
11:13 pm



February 29th, 2012
11:21 pm

Local control continues at least for now. I guess I will continue to pay my taxes!

Mary Elizabeth

March 1st, 2012
12:03 am

“Democrats, however, attacked the charter schools legislation on multiple fronts, arguing that the state has struggled to fund traditional public schools and would struggle even more if charter schools got more local funding.”


Hold together and hold firm, Democrats. This bill is about more than meets the eye. I believe that the future of public education is at stake here. “We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .that all are created equal,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and public school proponent. We must improve our traditional public schools, not desert them.

CharterStarter, Too

March 1st, 2012
12:26 am

@ Mary Elizabeth – Jefferson was also a slave holder… Which I find amazingly ironic in that children in failing schools with stone walling school districts are without rights to a strong public education that paves the road to a quality life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think if he lived in our day, he might be a teensy bit conflicted. Just saying…

Like I said before...

March 1st, 2012
12:39 am

@CharterStarted…He was a slave holder and Sally Hemings could attest to how tight he held on to her. We give the founding father’s too much credit for their “brilliance.” I am willing to bet a majority were of Newt’s ilk. But I digress.
There is no money for traditional schools therefore there is no money for charters. Plus, no one has answered how is it that David Morgan can sit on the CCSB and vote on this when his wife is pushing coffee and comments for the charter schools? He says there is no conflict of interest.

Fred ™

March 1st, 2012
1:11 am

Hey but look on the bright side. A bill to post the ten commandments EVERYWHERE as well as some bill which will force mothers to deliver dead children have SAILED through the legislature. Go Georgia……….

Mary Elizabeth

March 1st, 2012
1:13 am

Grace allows us to recognize that we all have personal failings and that we all “come short of the glory of God.” That is why we must try to refrain from judging others. Whatever Jefferson’s private failings were, his vision for this nation has stood the test of time and we should remain humbled by his personal sacrifices for our nation, and by the personal sacrifices of our other Founding Fathers for our exceptional nation’s continuing existence. They were extraordinary men in that they held a common vision and that vision was that this nation would forever be “of, by and for” the people, themselves, as was so eloquently stated by Abraham Lincoln. This nation was never meant to be
“of, by, and for” the billionaire moguls of industry and those that serve their self-interests.

Below is a video for readers to watch, regarding the billionaire Koch Brothers’ impact on public schools in Wake County, North Carolina. Please do not be “put off” by the dramatic music. Instead listen for the information and the facts dispersed. Please listen all the way to the end of the video. One line that grabbed my attention was, “Democracy for sale.” “Not so,” believed Thomas Jefferson, and that was one reason Jefferson supported the education of the populace through public schools – to ensure that our democratic republic would remain strong against the influences of the wealthy elite, with their own agendas and their own self-interests, to fulfill. (Google “ALEC.”) We must hold steady in continuing to support and to improve our traditional public schools, and we must continue to fund them with public taxes. We must not desert them.

Hold together, and hold firm, Senate Democrats. Thank you.

Fred ™

March 1st, 2012
1:19 am

Good luck with all that Mary Elizabeth……..

Fred ™

March 1st, 2012
1:21 am

Oh and ME? I’ve seen enough of the Koch brothers and their wicked ways that i’m not wasting time watching a video about them Sorry. They are scum.

Fred ™

March 1st, 2012
1:22 am

LOL I’ve become “moderation” material. The AJC doesn’t want truth in their blogs, they want political correctness…………


March 1st, 2012
7:03 am

Mary Elizabeth…I assume you must be a teacher. It amazes me that you are such a strong supporter of the public schools in Georgia. Please do your research on how Florida overcame their education problem. Please give us specifics on why you believe the public schools in Georgia to be so stellar.


March 1st, 2012
7:04 am

Enter your comments here


March 1st, 2012
7:08 am

@pleasebeserious…can you post research and specifics about why you believe Florida “overcame their education problem?”

Have you read about the latest charter school scandal in Florida?

CharterStarter, Too

March 1st, 2012
8:17 am

@ Mary Elizabeth- I admit they had great vision, but it was also narrow in vision. Mr. Jefferson believed in “inalienable rights”…except for blacks. It was almost 100 years before slavery was abolished so that all could enjoy these rights. We are doing h
The same thing now…looking at things very narrowly, and our children are on the short end of the stick.

I agree, we are supposed to be of, for, and by the people…not of, for, and by the billionaires…OR the school districts. Unfortunately, education is a money making enterprise – people profit off of it every day. If you don’t think textbook companies don’t make millions off schools, computer corporations, software companies, and local builders and developers don’t you are sadly misguided. I don’t know about Kock – frankly never heard of them before you enlightened us. But I can assure you that the sun total of all of the products and services benefitting from the public school system as a whole is even more substantial. I think your argument is rather weak, substantially based on conjecture and broad generalizations, as the vast majority of charters don’t use management companies. It is hard to believe folks are willing to invest the time and money to open a school, but it has happened time and again in our state and across the nation.

I can understand the argument about concern for funding. The state has cut education funding – mind you, how boards elect to deal with those cuts are their own decisions. Go do a search on superintendent salaries…not that these folks should not earn a decent wage for the level of responsibility, but some are over a quarter of a million dollars…in failing districts…or small districts. How many furlough days could districts save by aligning these salaries with industry average? How much is spent out of districts’ general fund every month on non priority expenditures? Take the time to sit in some district board meetings or review minutes. The cuts har been steep, but wise choices aren’t being made with resources. If charters can be approved by a state entity, they should be few…unless there is rampant unfairness in authorizing. In the size of the budget of this state, even with a cut to it, financing a few schools here an there where a district acted injuduciously is inconsequential.

Think, people! Reason this out. It’s like frowning…takes more muscles than to smile. It’s hard to argue against logic…failing schools, money ill invested in them, community demand for choice, a failing economy tied to an unprepared workforce, pain in higher ed due to unprepared students who end up dripping out, higher social costs or drop outs and those who are unskikked and uncompetitive in the workplace, persistent generational poverty, charters are outperforming districts where they serve. It’s a no brainer – UNLESS you are 1. Illogical. 2. Have a personal interest in the status quo and protecting it. 3. Don’t care.

CharterStarter, Too

March 1st, 2012
8:21 am

Pardon all the typos – on an iPhone and I failed to proof carefully before submitting.

South Georgia

March 1st, 2012
8:34 am

The charter school fiasco is the latest boondoggle created by those who understand nothing about public education. The legislature, the present governor, and past governor have ignored state education law and cut QBE funding for the past 10 years. Pre-K through 12 public schools are now struggling to survive as the state fails to fund basic programs and local taxpayers oppose local tax increases. The damage continues to mount and a generation of children will suffer irreparable harm. Our children will look back and point to this time when they were shortchanged by a bunch of politiicans who cared nothing about Georgia and its citizens.


March 1st, 2012
8:35 am

Maureen – what do you know about the proposal to not pay the Charter Systems the money that the State contracted to pay them as part of the process to become Charter systems?

I believe it is HB 651, sponsored by Rep. Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas).

Can our legislators never honor any contract they make with our schools?

Ed Advocate

March 1st, 2012
8:50 am

@ Mary Elizabeth: I have really appreciated the thoughtful and detailed commentary you’ve brought to this blog during the 1162 debate. I agree with your comments today and on recent threads regarding what entities are funding the charter movement in Georgia. This movement is being billed by 1162 proponents as being a grassroots movement fueled by frustrated parents and educators. I do not think their claims are accurate and think the funding behind the movement tells more of the story. Mary Elizabeth mentioned that the Koch brothers and other billionaire philanthropists are skewing the debate by injecting enormous financial resources into free-market based education reform efforts. On its own website, the GA Charter School Association reports that two thirds of its funding comes from foundation giving, and that its biggest donor is the non-GA based Walton Family Foundation (Wal-Mart founders). The foundation espouses “reforms” like school vouchers. About the Walton grants from the Charter School Association’s website: The leading funder from outside Georgia is the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), which committed a three-year total grant of $1,000,000 along with $185,000 to create the Georgia Parental Advocacy Network, $600,000 for the Legal Advocacy Fund, and $50,000 for developing the 2010-2013 strategic plan.

Ed Advocate

March 1st, 2012
9:01 am

@ Me: Yes, I’d also like to see Maureen or other reporters dig into the story behind HB 651. My understanding is that the bill would repeal a law that grants charter school systems (like Decatur City) a funding supplement. Some of the very same legislators pushing 1162 and funding for state charter schools have identified re-routed charter system funds as a source of funding for state charter schools. It’s very disingenuous of legislators and lobbying groups like the GA Chamber and the Charter School Association espousing the charter concept not to defend the charter system funding.

Maureen Downey

March 1st, 2012
9:04 am

@Me and Ed Advocate, I sent your notes to the education editor Angela Tuck. There are several ed funding bills that we need to look out to see what they do and why.

Ed Advocate

March 1st, 2012
9:11 am

Thank you Maureen!

Mary Elizabeth

March 1st, 2012
9:16 am

“What we need is not a marketplace, but a coherent curriculum that prepares all students. And our government should commit to providing a good school in every neighborhood in the nation, just as we strive to provide a good fire company in every community.

On our present course, we are disrupting communities, dumbing down our schools, giving students false reports of their progress, and creating a private sector that will undermine public education without improving it. Most significantly, we are not producing a generation of students who are more knowledgable, and better prepared for the responsibilities of citizenship. That is why I changed my mind about the current direction of school reform.”
The words above are from Diane Ravitch, who received a doctorate in education from Columbia University in 1975 and who is the recent author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.” Please see the link below for her full op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.


NOTE to “Charter Starter, Too,” who posted at 8:17 am that “Mr. Jefferson believed in ‘inalienable rights’…except for blacks. . .”

You are incorrect. Thomas Jefferson regretted the condition of slavery with its inherent inequality and he recognized that slavery was inconsistent with American tenets of equality for all. Jefferson stated that, in the evolution of history, slavery would be dissolved, which he desired (and it was.)

Also, I hope that you will become more informed about the Koch Brothers and about ALEC. The charter movement, school voucher movement, and the school choice movement, in general, are products of their Libertarian ideology which has been stealthily effecting rightwing policies in our nation for decades. The Bush family (including the latest educational impetus of Jeb Bush in Florida) has had decades of interest in privatizing American institutions for corporate, private advantages, including education. (Remember George W. Bush’s interest in privatizing Social Security which was not successful.) Corporate investment in charter schools, as I have previously pointed out, is not a static, but a growing, phenomena, and that phenomena will continue to grow if traditional public schools are allowed to be further dismantled. We must improve, not dismantle, traditional public schools. That means we must fund them instead of cutting funding to them, as has been the case in Georgia within the past decade.

Mary Elizabeth

March 1st, 2012
9:42 am

@Ed Advocate, 8:50 am

Thank you for your kind remarks, and for your commitment to fostering that truth emerges regarding the powerful forces, outside of Georgia, behind the school choice movement in Georgia.

Please read the following link, in full, which shows the interest in the Walton Family Foundation “to eradicate public schools.” From that link: “The Walton Family Foundation was a ‘Chairman’ level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $50,000.”

See the link, below, which itemizes the Walton Family Foundation’s financial support of certain educational pursuits. Within this link, notice that the Walton Family Foundation donated a grant of $1,383,584.50 to the Florida School Choice Fund in 2003.

Mary Elizabeth

March 1st, 2012
9:57 am

@Fred, 1:19 am

“Good luck with all that Mary Elizabeth……..”


Thank you for your encouraging words, Fred. My best regards to you and yours.


March 1st, 2012
10:03 am

@charter starter, too
There may not be a great number of educational management companies running charter schools in GA yet , but the point is they want to be here or anywhere where a profit can be made and this bill will pave their way. A current higher up who i believe is chair of our state’s charter commission (can’t remember his name and no time to look up today but I think it is Louis Erste) was most recently a CFO for Mosaica before he took our govt job. Mosaica has not always served their customers well but they write their contracts so they make a buck regardless of if the restrooms aren’t cleaned and the building smells of urine. But go ahead, open the door and let ‘em in…you can be sure EMO’s given much freedom to make their profits WILL NOT BE GOOD FOR KIDS.
And would be laughable if it weren’t so scary to think of a state-appointed commission overseeing these groups…welcome to the wild west of education. Hold onto your hats!


March 1st, 2012
10:04 am

Meant to say “it would e laughable…”

Ron F.

March 1st, 2012
10:10 am

As I have asked many times, how is any edcational “innovation” going to change the kids we must teach? Will we just throw all the kids with discipline issues or learning disabilities off to the side and educate the “good” kids? Please see how illogical this plan, and many others, really are. This is just an attempt to separate out the kids who can or will do from the ones who can’t or won’t. In the long run, that’s really not going to help us improve the quality of education.

As many have posted, funding charters isn’t going to be any easier than funding the current public schools. And trust me, those involved with teaching, managing, and administrating the charters are just as concerned with money as we are in the public school system. When you look at the charter school movement nationwide, you see how the plan to privatize education is taking place. Regardless of how you feel about any of this, you have to see the funding issue. Money will only be available to fund the state charter schools when they take money from sowewhere else. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how that can be accomplished, and it worries me. This isn’t about local control or parent influence. It’s about the fact that 50% of the state budget goes to education and a lot of money sharks smell it and want a piece of it.

Mary Elizabeth

March 1st, 2012
10:24 am

@Ron F, 10:10

“Money will only be available to fund the state charter schools when they take money from somewhere else. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how that can be accomplished, and it worries me. This isn’t about local control or parent influence. It’s about the fact that 50% of the state budget goes to education and a lot of money sharks smell it and want a piece of it.”


Thank you for stating this so succinctly and so well, Ron F.


March 1st, 2012
10:51 am

I would wholeheartedly support charter schools in GA IF the DOE were truly using them as an incubator for what-might-work in education in Georgia.

By definition, a charter school is asking the state for relief from certain provisions of state law or policy, under which schools in Georgia must operate. The obvious question is, ‘From what provisions are you seeking relief?’ and ‘What specific hypothesis on education are you exploring?’

In that context, the state could approach the charter variances like a real experiment. Change certain variables and then determine whether the outcome is useful. In this way, we could use charters to research and improve education in Georgia; in an informed and well-researched AND DOCUMENTED manner.

If it’s useful, then why not apply that outcome to the entire state? Why should you need relief from provisions that don’t work, or permission to implement provisions that do? Make that a part of education policy!

But if all you’re doing is trying to get larger class sizes, pay teachers less and/or without due-process considerations, then it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Just because you’re offering less money for education, doesn’t mean it takes less money to run it.


March 1st, 2012
10:58 am

Our elected officials should let the people of Georgia vote on the issue. If people are for it or against it, then they should have the freedom to vote.

For public schools

March 1st, 2012
11:02 am

This is directed at the comment by “CharterStarter, Too” that discusses “industry-standard salaries” for superintendents. I note that you did not mention “industry standard” for teachers in there. IF teachers were actually paid “industry standard” for their credentials, additional training, additional degrees that are paid for out of pocket – whereas most industries have some type of incentive for their employees to achieve advanced degrees and training (including paying for 80% or more of the tuition and fees) – teachers would be making WELL MORE than what they do! This caused me to smile QUITE a bit. I have a friend who is a teacher, with more credentials and more experience than someone who works in an industry-related field in the same area. This teacher makes HALF the salary of the industry person. HALF. Oh – and don’t give us the argument that teachers are paid for summer break – they are not. They are employees for the number of school days (180) + the number of planning days that they work. *Some* holidays are paid time off – same as industry – but they don’t get to pick and choose. So, those holiday breaks that children have – NOT “paid time off” – one day (i.e. Thanksgiving) is paid – the others are not. Even if the aforementioned friends of mine were equated for their salaries and put on the same number of days worked, my industry friend still makes more $$. So – please don’t throw around “industry-standard” unless you include teachers in there….

2Concerned Mommy

March 1st, 2012
11:18 am

And what about Special Education? Anyone? The children with IEPs have not even been given a thought during this whole debaucle. My recent experience with the charter was such that I had to pull my child out after a short time. I am not comfortable going into detail since I have since been contacted by parents/pushers of the charter with nasty comments. Many, I am sure, are on this blog since the verbage used is identical to the BS I have heard before. But needless to say, my child, was severely neglected. I have also taken my concerns to the state level.

Charterstarter, Too

March 1st, 2012
11:29 am

@ South Georgia,

The opposing side continues to use 2 key arguments for why we have failing schools:

1. Budget cuts
2. Lack of parental support

Please help me find the real logic in these arguments by answering these questions:

1. Why are the districts with the highest per pupil funding are performing the lowest in Georgia?

2. Why was the achievement in Georgia not HIGHER BEFORE austerity cuts kicked in 8-10 years ago?

3. How are states with LOWER per pupil revenue performing higher than some of our districts that receive more funding?

4. Charters, that are earning about .74 on the dollar compared to their traditional school counterparts are outperforming the districts where they serve (i.e., APS charters are outperforming APS, with similar demographics). How does this happen?

5. Does our state have the third highest percentage of low SES districts and uninvolved parents, and that’s why we are #48 in the nation?

My belief is that funding does matter somewhat, particularly if it isn’t funneled down to the classrooms due to poor prioritizing, but other things matter MUCH, MUCH more, and the research supports this:

1. Efficacy of the teacher in the classroom
2. Teacher morale, autonomy and time to teach, support and management from administration
3. Quality of leadership
4. Frequent monitoring of student data
5. Engagement of ALL stakeholders in the schooling process
6. Overall school culture, which includes a culture of high expectations academically and behaviorally

I believe parental engagement is important, but it’s not the only thing that impacts student outcomes. On a personal note, I come from a very low SES background (qualified for FRL my whole life) with an uneducated single mother, it IS possible to overcome these factors with good schooling. I believe that kids who are poor do come to school unprepared to learn sometimes. But….when I look at the KIPP schools, they don’t depend on high parental involvement, and they serve the highst populations of low SES students and are blowing the top off of academic achievement in communites where they serve. We have the 90-90-90 schools, many of them traditional public schools in other parts of the country, who are succeeding despite these factors.

We have an ingrained problem with making excuses and blaming society and ignoring solutions that are within our locus of control. We MUST serve these kids better. I think traditional schools CAN do it if they have the WILL to do it. So far, the district offices have been unwilling to give up control and push it down to the school level and reprioritize their spending and focus on improving school culture for their instructional staff and students. I also believes charters can do it and ARE doing it. And I think they can help the traditional schools get there IF the districts would let them.

Change is hard, no doubt, but it is necessary to progress.


March 1st, 2012
12:15 pm

The money should follow the child and we should have schools of all types on every street corner. It should be up to me as the parent to decide which school best meets the need for my child. If the public school system works for you, than by all means turn the money over to the public school system. For this to happen one must understand that not every child learns in the same capacity. However, the majority of the people are to stupid to understand this. They think we can put thirty kids in a class and all is good. All will pass with flying colors. All is peachy. This is not reality. We can pull out the smart kids for an hour and the special ed kids for an hour and all is good. This is not reality. Have you noticed that the parents for school choice are those parents who have children that are gifted or who struggle. Thats because we know that this system is not working.

I pulled my son out of his wonderful public school in January. Now at a virtual charter. Go ahead scream at me for keeping funding away from your child. I guess your child is more important than mine. Who gave you the right to decide that my child is not worhy of a decent education and demand that he stays in an environment that simply does not meet his needs? Where is the right of my child?

Yes I know. I have private school options for dyslexia. But wait. Tuituion cost 20,000 plus. Why should I have to pay such a high tuition because my child is not average and need to be taught in a different way. Why should my child have to suffer because the school refuses to provide a special ed techer who specializes in dyslexia. Open up your eyes and realize that charter schools do not have to be your enemy. They could be your friend. We can have public charters for children with autism. How about charters with children who are ADHD. Charters for children who are dyslexic. Charters for the gifted children. We alredy have a charter for the gifted math and science in high school. We already have technical schools. However, these schools are not an option at the elementary and middle school level. Until you have walked in my shoes and go through what I go through with my son, do not yell at me for taking your money from your public school. I have spent thousands of dollars on tutors. My child deserves every right to a good education as does yours.

This is why the money should follow the best need of the child. This does not mean a bad reflection on the public school system, it just means that the system does not always work for a child. There should be a plan B, when plan A does not work. Plan A is the public school system and plan B can be the charters. Please do not keep my child from plan B. He has every right to a decent education as every other child. I believe Jefferson would be in favor of all types of education. He would reason that what works for one might not work for all.

HS Public Teacher

March 1st, 2012
12:39 pm

I am still confused about some issues surrounding charter schools. Sorry if this is a long post….

Everyone continues to stress that Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools have to admit anyone that applies. Charter schools cannot expel a student any more than a regular public school. Charter school children still have to pass the CRCT, the EOCT, and whatever other standards the State has. And, everything else. Right? Am I missing something?

If all of that is true, then why have a separate entity called “Charter” schools at all? Why create extra laws for it? If they are EXACTLY the same, then why do all of this extra stuff? Won’t someone please explain this to me? I am very sincere in my question.

It seems that the only difference that I can tell is that a charter school allows for a private corporation to swoop in to proclaim “charter status” and take pubic tax dollars in order to make a profit.


March 1st, 2012
12:53 pm

Will Georgia continue to lack the courage to lead the nation in education reform? Hopefully the state senators do the right thing and support this amendment.

HS Public Teacher

March 1st, 2012
1:03 pm


Please please answer my question from my last post. If this is “education reform” as you put it, HOW is it different?

Mary Elizabeth

March 1st, 2012
1:32 pm

Krissy, 12:15 pm

“Plan A is the public school system and plan B can be the charters. Please do not keep my child from plan B. He has every right to a decent education as every other child. I believe Jefferson would be in favor of all types of education. He would reason that what works for one might not work for all.”


You make some compelling arguments for individualizing to instructional need every student. I, too, believe each student’s needs should be served in education; however, I think we need to be very wary of seeing that answer – or plan B, as you say – through charter schools. Those individualized needs can be accommodated through specialized schools paid for by traditional public education. In fact, as I recall from my years as an active teacher, magnet schools served for that purpose, and there were also specialized public schools for students with learning disabilities.

In my readings of Thomas Jefferson, I do not believe that he would ever have wanted to see schools created that eventually served a profit motive. As a public servant, he – unlike other politicians of his day – refused to benefit financially from his public service. Moreover, he wrote that he supported public schools so that the nation would not be controlled or ruled by a small number of the powerful and wealthy. Our nation is evolving into that, however. Notice who are supporters of charter schools as has been discussed on this blog – the Walmart Family Foundation which donated over one million dollars to charter schools in Florida, and the Koch Brothers, who are part of that wealthy, controlling class within our nation. Jefferson would not have been pleased with this overall movement.

The problem with charter schools is that they can evolve into profit-making schools over time, especially if that is the vision of their top wealthy, politically powerful supporters. Be wary.


March 1st, 2012
2:10 pm

How is this “leading the nation in education reform?” How about Charter reform? I would like to see Charter student assessments compared only to their true peers in the local neighborhood public school. How about requiring Charters remove assessment data for students (former private, homeschool or other charter) who did not directly enroll from the local public school. Then we’ll have a better idea of which schools are truly “innovative.” This will force Charters to be more competitive for students and thus force change right? I would also like to see per pupil expense reporting to include grant money received (that would be for Charters and Public schools). Enough of the apples to oranges comparisons. Not saying all Charters are good or bad, but I don’t agree with expansion without some accurate information about which ones are working and why.

Ed Advocate

March 1st, 2012
3:07 pm

Oh Maureen, I just got the joke. Starbucks gift cards. Percolating. V funny!


March 1st, 2012
3:50 pm

HS Public Teacher
March 1st, 2012
12:39 pm

See my post: 10:51


March 1st, 2012
3:56 pm

March 1st, 2012
12:15 pm

Who would yell at you for this, federal law already mandates that if you can medically document your child’s condition, the public school MUST provide accomodations.

And yes, I fully understand there is lots of push-back regarding the letter of the law in terms of actually meeting those accomodations. But specialty schools such as you suggest are only possible in high-population areas and even then the mechanics of such specialization is difficult to implement.


March 1st, 2012
3:56 pm

I love reading over and over about the ‘profit motive’. Textbook companies, staffing agencies, technology companies, architects, builders, food distribution, and countless others make a profit off our public schools. Geez. If a charter finds a management company who will find their janitors, cut their paychecks, file their taxes, purchase their paper and pencils, who cares? Charter schools still submit an annual audit to the state. I’m so tired of the “I’ve been a teacher for 20+ years”, “I’ve been in public education for 35 years”. You had time to do something and you didn’t.

Yesterday, I heard democrats say over and over that public education has lost 25% of its funding over the last 8-10 years. Well gosh, did we drop from 48 to 50? Something tells me we’ve overpaid because the results didn’t change.

It’s very frustrating to hear we should continue doing everything the same way.

Ed Johnson

March 1st, 2012
4:33 pm

Be not put off by the book’s title or by “bell curve” controversy around the book’s author, but perhaps now is a good time to glean insight from Charles Murray’s recent book, ”Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.”

“This book is about an evolution in American society that has taken place since November 21, 1963, leading to the formation of classes that are different in kind and in their degree of separation from anything that the nation has ever known. I will argue that the divergence into these separate classes, if it continues, will end what has made America America.” –Charles Murray

Funny how there seems to be something of an elemental drive that’s constantly stirring up varying social dynamics. And because it is elemental, the drive seems to be begging us to see that, in order to solve seemingly intractable problems, we must first understand that all causes and all effects are not at all close in time and space.

Yet, the solutions we keep coming up with imply that, indeed, we most certainly do believe all causes and all effects are close in time and space, very close, extremely close, in fact. But this belief just keeps leading us to seek solace in the “blame game,” a game that demands fingering somebody or something, right here (present space) and right now (present time)!

Of course the blame game always is a win-lose proposition so always stimulates some manner of “coming part.” We also tend to be dismissive of comings apart in the aggregate, and will continue to do so until the aggregate becomes overwhelming, as happened with Beverly Hall as APS superintendent and is now happening with our legislators as Gerogia’s lawmakers.

HR 1162, not to mention Obama’s RTTT competition, is a fine example of a win-lose proposition that stimulates a “coming apart.” Still, certain people just keep on believing they can “win” with charter schools, so they just keep on making the CHOICE to not see that they and their children are being set up to “lose.”

Big Bill

March 1st, 2012
5:40 pm

Of course the “Center for An Educated Georgia” is offering a $10.00 Starbucks gift card and the chance to win a $100.00 gift card. All the recipients have to do is agree to lobby their Georgia state legislators to endorse “school choice” by telling “their school choice story.” Why is “the Center” doing this? Because “the Center” is a phony, made-up right-wing Republican “stealth” front organization which was created and funded to do just that. This ersatz education group with the innocuous name is just one prong of many to promote a loathsome Republican “education reform” agenda, antithetical to the well being of our public schools and nation. Why? Because promoting “school choice” is one of the tools being used to promote what is really their ultimate goal: to bring to an end the public financing of schools, to privatize them, and to return to the bad old days of racial and economic segregation of school students. Who wants this? As I have stressed in earlier comments on HR 1162, it is a group of wacko extremely right- wing Republican Billionaires which includes, among others, Dick and Betsy Devos (acting through their stealth “education non-profits:” All Children Matter, the American Federation for Children, and the American Federation for Children Fund) and the Koch brothers (acting through their stealth non-profit: Americans for Prosperity aka AFP) who are determined to undermine and ultimately dismantle one of the largest and most successful democratic institutions in American history – our public school systems. And, disgracefully, they have garnered the complete and enthusiastic support of the Republican Party which has made attacking public schools and public financing of schools a major priority for all elected official and candidates who are party members. One example: HR 1162.

I support and fully agree with the comments of Mary Elizabeth who rightly reminds us that the right to a publicly-financed education was a sacred precept for Thomas Jefferson and one of the most profoundly beneficial principles of good governance ever devised. And now this network of Republican-backed billionaire political extremists and the state wide and locally elected Republican Party legislators, governors, and other officials and candidates whose campaigns they have funded, in a direct challenge to Jefferson’s brilliant educational initiative at the time of our nation’s birth, is working day and night in every state across the nation to do away with and otherwise privatize public schools at every level. The following investigative journalism pieces might be helpful:

Google: “Voucher Advocate Betsy Devos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on PA Public Schools” by Rachel Tabachnick, Talk To Action, April 20, 2011.

Google:”Pro-Voucher Astroturfing: Campaigns Across NationCoordinated by Devos, Funded by a Few Mega Donors” by Rachel Tabachnick, Talk To Action, April 24, 2011.

Google: “Video: Devos outlines stealth strategy to destroy Public Education,” April 23, 2011.

Google: “The Republican War on Education” by Ruth Coniff, the Progressive, May, 2011.

So, what about this dubious, ad hoc group the “Center for an Educated Georgia,” if you google it you will see that it states that it is “The Center for an Educated Georgia…at the Georgia Family Council.” The Georgia Family Council aka the Georgia Family Education and Resource Council was a recipient of donations from the family foundation of two of the premier billionaire, Republican extreme right-wing, anti-public school, pro-school choice-vouchers, pro-charter school, pro-let private for-profit companies run charter schools, pro-privatize public schools, pro-for profit schools, pro-let the money follow the children, pro-home schooling, pro- for-profit, online schools like Phoenix Academy and Kaplan Schools, Republican Royalty- married couples in America: Dick and Betsy Devos, good friends and allies of the infamous Koch brothers as well. Their family foundation, “the Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation donated funds to the Georgia Family and Research Education Research Council in 2007-2008. Source for this information: google this: “grants – MediaMatters Action Network – Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation Grant to Georgia Family Education and Research Council – 2007-2008.” So following the money here brings us from the “Center for an Educated Georgia” to the doorstep of Dick and Betsy Devos.

More about the Devos couple – Google “Business- Managed Education” a web site created by an Australian university professor who has tracked the negative aspects and effects of attempts by giant for-profit corporations and their wealthy executives and other wealthy individuals to interject themselves, their conservative political and social values and their wealth into the operations of public school systems around the world and especially in the US, usually to the great detriment of the students and too often for the great financial profit of the corporate executives involved. Think of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and it’s role in trying to control the Board members of the Atlanta Public Schools (in part by choosing some of the candidates who ran for election to that office), the operations of APS, its Superintendent Beverly Hall, and its outrageous role in trying to stage manage a cover-up of the cheating scandal. Big Business was deeply involved in what happened at APS. Giant corporation execs like to impose business concepts like testing and profit analysis on local public school systems This web site addresses these issues and has a section addressing the billionaires in America and elsewhere who seek to impose their harmful anti-public school wacko right-wing education theories on public school students around this nation. It covers Dick and Betsy Devos.


March 1st, 2012
6:17 pm

@HS Public Teacher, I suggest you see my commentary at the GA Public Policy Foundation website and also read my own blog, ReinventED Solutions, where you can find out how this is an example of innovation in education. This is about more than charter schools.

Larry Major

March 1st, 2012
7:13 pm

I read both your blog and commentary. What I didn’t see is how any part of HR 1162 relates to anything you wrote. It would help to mention exactly what you think HR 1162 would do and the specific text in it that supports your contention.


March 1st, 2012
7:19 pm

@2ConcernedMommy: You have reason to be concerned.

The New Orleans school district is currently a laboratory for the charter school movement. A simple google search will turn up glowing reports about the success of New Orleans charter schools.

Keep digging and you start to find a few cracks in the “success” stories. Here’s one example:

A few more links concerning charters and students with disabilities:


March 1st, 2012
8:08 pm

Please will a charter school proponent answer this question..why can’t we apply the great things charter schools provide to ALL Georgia’s schools?